First tourists arrested for ‘gay propaganda’ in Russia free to go

Four Dutch filmmakers were not charge after making a documentary about gay rights in the Russian city of Murmansk - the footage was then seized by police

First tourists arrested for ‘gay propaganda’ in Russia free to go
22 July 2013

Four tourists who were arrested in Russia for ‘gay propaganda’ were told they were free to go today (22 July).

Due to an ‘irregularity in the minutes’, the four Dutch citizens said they would no longer be held by police. 

In Murmansk in North Russia, four Dutch citizens were arrested by police yesterday.

‘The court date was cancelled because it never came to us,’ a representative of the Leninsky district court said.

A police source confirmed the case against the Dutch citizens was dropped.

This was the first time foreigners had been officially charged under the anti-gay law, which normally leads to a fine, possible prison time for up to 14 days, and deportation.

The four was led by Kris van der Veen, a councillor for the left-wing green party GroenLinks in Groningen. He is also chairman of the foundation KGBT Groningen, which campaigns for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

Groningen in the Netherlands is ‘twinned’ with Murmansk in Russia.

The group was making a documentary about gay rights in Russia and had asked a 17-year-old teenager about his views.

The police took the Dutch citizens away, and was told they had violated their visas. Their reason for travel was to ‘acquaint themselves with Russian culture’.

They were told they had broken the law of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ propaganda among children, which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on 1 July.

Authorities then questioned the interviewees for the documentary.

‘During questioning they tried to get us to say, or at least imply, that our lives in Russia are not good,’ Elena Shadrina said.

‘I was asked at least three times about the [Dutch] guests had said, and whether the conversation had drifted into an exchange along the lines of “things are good in the Netherlands and bad in Russia”.’

Shortly after they were questioned for eight hours, Van der Veen posted on his Facebook wall telling his friends he would not be back in the Netherlands for today..

‘Rather than return home we are still in Murmansk,’ he said. ‘It’s all because of the documentary, the gay propaganda. It’s okay, but it is unclear what to do next.

‘We’ve got a lot of support from the local activists and consulates!’

The group was fined 3,000 roubles each ($93, 70 euros) for violating visa rules.

Police confiscated the film shot in Russia and are still refusing to release the footage.

Gay activists have told Gay Star News they hope this is a ‘taste’ of what will be the case during the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia next year. They hope international pressure will force Russian authorities to not arrest any gay tourist or athlete during the Games.

The arrest comes as prominent Russian gay activists are in Marseille for EuroPride. They are speaking about the anti-gay laws and protesting against Putin.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

BBC radio hosts spark fury saying they could 'turn' lesbian TV personality Clare Balding

Two radio hosts with the British Broadcasting Corporation are under fire for their offensive comments directed at TV presenter Clare Balding during an evening broadcast
No thumbnail available

Locals ‘destroy’ Cairo sauna, 14 men face gay anal probe torture

Reports ‘gay’ men were taken to police station naked after the raid and are facing anal probe torture tests. Total arrests may be greater than 14
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin encounters 'The Hot Cop of Castro Street'

Hunky officer gives sly smile when told he's become something of a web celeb
No thumbnail available

Ben Cohen and Prince Harry stand up against homophobic bullying

Royal prince and rugby hunk pose for picture supporting the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation
No thumbnail available

Gay novel Mother of Sorrows set for big screen

Gay film director Terence Davies set to adapt Richard McCann's award-winning novel for big screen
No thumbnail available

Free concert in Paris for gay marriage, headlined by gay British singer Mika

Out gay singer Mika will headline a free outdoor concert in Paris 21 May to celebrate the ‘Marriage for All’ law
No thumbnail available

John McCain's daughter slams Santorum for marriage views

Meghan McCain calls some of candidate's statements 'so dated and it's so gross'
Watch Christian extremist's head nearly explode as she reacts to equal marriage
No thumbnail available

Bisexual pop star Ke$ha says love is not about gender

Die Young singer speaks out against LGBT bullying after previously dedicating her new album Warrior to her gay fans